A Cataloger With True Direct Mail Savvy
Few would argue that a guarantee can make or break a sale. If a prospect is teetering, being reassured of getting his money back or the product replaced can push him gently over the edge of the great purchasing divide. This can be especially true with items whose "shippability" may be in question, as well as items that face strong competition from brick-and-mortar retailers. Plants fit both of these bills.
Spring Hill Nurseries, longtime mail-order garden center, seems to know this well. Recipients of its Spring 2004 catalog (306SPHINU0204) are reassured to such a degree that they have nothing to lose by orderingnot their money, and not their time and effort in returning merchandise. The company's no-risk guarantee is highlighted front and center on the bind-in order form: "... If, for any reason, you aren't pleased with any plant upon receipt, after planting or once it grows, just contact Spring Hill anytimeno time limitfor as long as you garden. No need to return any plant. ... "
In one simply worded paragraph, Spring Hill heads off prospects' concerns at the pass.
This cataloger certainly is no stranger to direct mail, and several other tactics work together with the guarantee to sell the prospect. For starters, the company employs the sales services of what most marketers see as the most essential element of a direct mail effort: the letter. While some catalog companies print letters on their inside pages, Spring Hill plasters its letter on its cover wrap, with the salutation: "Dear Valued Customer."
The cover wrap also highlights the main offer for "$25.00 worth of gardening products" free, with the purchase of $25 or more of additional products.
Then, prospects are encouraged to spend even more and to do it now to get more savings. The "Early Order Bonus" sticker on the cover wrap promises: "If your order totals $75 or more, add $10 to the certificate below if you order by March 3."
And, the letter on the cover notes yet another incentive: the "One Cent Sale," which is explained on the interior pages on either side of the order form. For just one cent more, prospects can get a double quantity of anything on the two-page spread. The copy at the top of the page mentions the company's commitment to "top-quality planting material, offered at money-saving prices and fully protected by our famous Lifetime Guarantee of Complete Satisfaction."
There are several examples of this cataloger's general merchandising savvy, but most notable are its "complete gardens," such as the "Complete Three-Season Garden"a package deal (including a layout plan) of 23 different plants "that will brighten your landscape with constant color from spring to fall." This approach makes it easy for novice gardeners to select flowers without an in-store sales associate present.
No one from Spring Hill was available for comment, but with incentives piled on, customer-friendly merchandising and a truly no-risk guarantee, Spring Hill sure does make an offer that's hard to refuse.